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Bus Shelter
Part of the exhibition, "Material Evidence" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, illinois

The project’s investigation of pneumatics begins with a study of geometries equivalent to the topological properties of a soap bubble. A soap bubble always takes on a size and shape corresponding to the minimum possible surface area for the largest possible enclosed volume of air. The paradigmatic pneumatic membrane structure is the soap bubble. The stresses on its membrane are equivalent at every point and in every direction; its form is optimized in relation to its material.

In pure pneumatic structures, air - captured within one or more surface membranes - is the only load-bearing element, and air pressure difference is the structural medium. Performance of a pneumatic structure can be enhanced with non-pneumatic structural elements, such as membrane ribs, cable networks, or ground anchors. There are also methods of adjusting a pneumatic structure’s performance, behavior, and form without adding material. By adding pattern to the surface of the membrane, structural information is thermally sealed into the pneumatic itself. Adjusting the thermally sealed joining patterns of two membranes produces distinct (post-inflated) structures, shapes, and forms.

Rarely has a program been inserted into the membrane of a pneumatic structure itself. In the Transit Stop, structure and program merge into a single skin of automated virtual information. A built-in GPS/GIS interactive data system allows Chicago Transit Authority bus/train passengers access to a bus’s geographical position and estimated time of arrival via a voice-based real-time information system. Passengers also have access to information on the internet.

The project was commissioned by Cynthia C. Davidson and included in her Material Evidence Show: Chicago Architecture at 2000 exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Film by Jonathan Miller